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Types of Rivets: Learn About Different Rivets and Their Common Uses

types of rivets

Rivets are a common type of fastener used to hold two or more parts together. Rivets are designed to be a more permanent faster, and out of all the different fasteners, rivets are most similar to nails. 

Rivets are used in many different mechanical operations, and have been for a long time. The concept is very simple, and in fact, the first rivets were used around 3,000 BC. Rivets were used to hold ancient tools together, like the head and handle of a hammer, and to attach a carrying handle to a jar.

The rivets used today are more precise and durable, but they have the same general design and purpose. Rivets can be used for lightweight purposes, and heavy duty machines like tanks or aircraft. 

How does a rivet work?

A rivet is similar to a nail, but they’re not exactly the same. Rivets usually don’t have threading, and they have a flat or rounded head. Unlike nails, rivets usually don’t have a sharp pointed end. Rivets also have a larger body, similar to a bolt.

When rivets are being used, a hole is drilled into the materials that the rivet is holding together. The hole drilled is slightly larger than the rivet. Then, the rivet is inserted, and the back end of the rivet is smashed or deformed so it’s larger than the hole drilled. This creates a tight connection between the two materials. And the rivet would need to break before the materials separate. 

Smaller rivets are installed with a handheld tool called a riveter or rivet gun. Larger industrial rivets, like the ones used for bridge construction work the same way. But, those need to be heated up before the end is smashed so it can be deformed.

How rivets work

What are the different types of rivets?

Rivets are a basic type of fastener, but there are some different types designed for specific uses. 

Solid rivets

Solid rivets are just what they sound like. They have a solid round body and either a flat or rounded head.

The rivet is inserted into the hole and the end is smashed with a hammer, or other squeezing tool. Depending on the size of the rivet, a lot of force can be required to deform the end so it stays in place. 

Solid rivets are the most secure and can bear the most weight and are the most reliable. They’re used for load bearing applications like building frames and bridges, Solid rivets are also used in aircraft, cranes, and other vehicles.

Tubular rivets

Again, tubular or hollow rivets are exactly what they sound like. They look the same as solid rivets, but the body is a partially or fully hollow tube. With these rivets, the tail end isn’t solid, which makes it much easier to deform. These rivets require about 25% of the force to secure compared to solid rivets. 

Countersunk rivets

Countersunk rivets or flat rivets are designed to not stick out once they’re installed. There’s a small hole for the rivet, and a slightly larger hole made for the head of the rivet. These are used to improve dynamics on vehicles, and on sliding tracks where something needs to slide over the rivet without hitting it. 

Split rivets

Split rivets have a split end. Usually there are two small legs on the end of the rivet that are spread apart to secure the rivet. These are commonly used with softer materials like drywall, leather, wood, or plastic. 

Blind rivets

Blind rivets are unique because they can be installed without accessing the other side of the rivet. These rivets are technically two different parts. The rivet has a pin that pulls out when it’s installed. The pin is pulled out and squishes the end of the rivet to secure it. Blind rivets are used in aircrafts, watercraft, and electronics. 

How are rivets manufactured?

There are two primary ways that rivets are manufactured.

Thinner rivers are made by cold forming. A round wire is fed into a machine and cut to the desired length. Then the piece of wire is punched into a dyes, or cutouts, to form the shape of the rivet. It takes a few different dyes to fully form the rivet body and head. But, this process all happens very quickly. Hundreds of rivets are made every minute, and they’re fairly accurate. 

Rivets can also be made using Swiss screw machines. This process is used for solid rivets, when stronger materials are needed, and when more precision is needed. Since rivets have a simple design, Swiss screw machines are still efficient and keep manufacturing costs low.

What materials are rivets made with?

Rivets are made with a wide variety of metals. The harder metals offer greater strength, but they also require more force to install the rivet. Softer metals like copper or brass can’t handle as much stress, but they’re easier to install. 

Rivets are commonly made with

  • Stainless steel
  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Brass

Spex is a precision machine shop located in Rochester, New York. We manufacture a wide range of precision parts and fasteners including rivets. If you need rivets, or other precision parts, fill out the form to connect with our team.

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